Niceville Cash & Carry Celebrates 45 Years of Serving our friends in Niceville
At the start of World War II Niceville played an important but little known role in building up Eglin Air Force Base, literally, from a small Army Air Corps gunnery range dating back to the late 1930’s to the world’s largest air base, and home to tens of thousands of military and civilian workers.
The federal government had a portable sawmill on what is today’s Eglin Air Force Base reservation since 1908. That’s when most of the present military reservation was part of the Choctawhatchee National Forest, When the national forest was given to the military June 27, 1940, the Army Air Corps assumed ownership.
In 1940, the government set up the mill at the Mullet Festival site, at the corner of Highway 85 and College Boulevard in Niceville, to help build up Eglin Air Force Base.
By producing its own lumber from the abundant forests on the reservation, the military hoped to save money as it built what became the largest air base in the free world. There were a few smaller mills in operation throughout the reservation, but the only government owned mill was in Niceville, the main supplier of lumber during the World War II build-up at Eglin.
The government-owned sawmill covered 23 acres and produced about 20,000 board-feet per day in the 1950’s.
The government continued to operate the Niceville Sawmill until 1958 when the Bay Lumber Company, Niceville, took it on with a five year lease. That private group apparently got assistance from the late Congressman Bob Sikes. Ownership changed again in 1968, when a second group took over the lease.
The new group, Jerry Hodges, along with Tommy McCall opened Hodges Cash & Carry of DeFuniak Springs in 1968, Jerry Hodges & Tommy McCall who later partnered with Larry Paulk, ran the mill for several years. Niceville at the time, was a fairly small community with lots of potential growth. McCall, Hodges and Paulk thought that such a beautiful area, with a fast growing military base, was sure to thrive with growth and building supplies would be needed. So on Nov. 1, 1970, the doors of Niceville Cash & Carry opened on Niceville Avenue, just a short distance from the sawmill site. The main idea was to offer plywood to their customers because they had nowhere to store these types of products at the sawmill. So the offerings in hardware grew from there. Jerry Hodges & Tommy McCall along with Larry Paulk partnered with Buddy Supple in 1977. All total the participating partners opened six stores in a few short years. Hodges Cash & Carry, Niceville Cash & Carry, Crestview Lumber, Destin Lumber, Mariana Lumber and Graceville Lumber, , Niceville Cash & Carry is still owned by the same group.
In 1973 the government closed the out-of-date and unprofitable mill. However Niceville Cash & Carry was already established and continued supplying building supplies and other goods to the growing community. Niceville Cash & Carry started out with the participating partners and a delivery truck. It was decided help was needed and one of the very first employees, was Evelyn Reese who was hired as the bookkeeper In 1971. She was the mother of eight children the wife of Ralph Reese. Mrs. Reese became a local fixture in the budding new lumber and hardware store, taking orders and selling extra supplies to the rapidly growing area. She remained in the business for 37 years until her passing Nov. 8, 2008. Former Managers Donnie Howell who worked at the mill and later became manager at Niceville Cash & Carry. Howell was employed for more than 15 years Till 1985. Then Bob Cooper became manager from 1985 until he retired of 24 years, in 2009. The current manager is Danny Taylor, who was hired by Donnie Howell in April of 1981 as a yard helper.
Niceville Cash & Carry employs nine full-time and four part-time employees. We operate twelve trucks, one is a 32’ conveying boom for shingle deliveries, five 16’ dump beds, three pickup trucks, one pickup that pulls a 20’ enclosed trailer and three fork lifts.
For 45 years Niceville Cash & Carry has been helping build our beautiful area. Others stores have come and gone, but the vision of, Mr. Hodges, Mr. McCall, Mr. Paulk and Mr. Supple, and all of its employees, that Niceville is a growing community lives on.
Monday - Friday 7AM - 5PM
Saturday 7AM - 12 PM
500 Niceville Ave.,
Niceville, Fl 32578